January 9, 2014

Seeing and Feeling Letters in Color

Did you know that musical notes have certain vibrations or frequencies? Easy to believe, right?
Well....what about other sounds, like letters you say?
Take that information and combine it with the fact that color is visible light at varying frequencies.
So colors also have frequencies.

Well, did you know some people see colors associated with certain sounds or letters? Or even people feeling those frequencies/colors with their eyes closed? It may sounds strange, but I've personally met a woman who has a highly developed sense of feeling color. We are so used to seeing and feeling our world in certain ways, but what other possibilities are there with developing our senses and spiritual gifts? 

Take that interesting thought...and then enjoy reading this interesting article from ABCnews.


Why Some People See Numbers, Letters in Color

Even as a child, the man called "WO" knew he saw the world quite differently than his friends.
Letters, numbers and words all had distinct colors.
He knew it, because he could see it with his own eyes. To him, a page of black print didn't look black at all. It was a symphony of color. The number "2" was bright orange, "5" was green, and so forth.
His young friends, no doubt, thought he was a bit nutty, but he had one close ally. His mother understood. She knew words had colors, because she, too, could see them. They weren't the same colors her son saw, but they were colors, nonetheless.
Both WO (as he is anonymously referred to in a recent study) and his mother had a condition known as synesthesia (rhymes with anesthesia), that causes some people to hear colors, feel sounds and taste shapes. Scientists have known about synesthesia for at least 300 years, but it wasn't taken all that seriously until recently. People who claimed to hear colors were dismissed as hallucinatory, or worse.
Condition Through the Ages
A decade ago Richard E. Cytowic, a neurologist, chronicled a number of case studies in a popular book, The Man Who Tasted Shapes, and scientists realized the time was ripe to reopen the case of synesthesia. New testing procedures, and new tools that could peer inside the brain, identifying areas that are active during various conditions, could allow them to see if there really was anything to all this.
And it turns out that there is. WO really does see the number 2 as bright orange, just as thousands of others around the world see it as blue, or yellow, or whatever. It is a concept that is quite difficult for the rest of us to grasp.
"It's like trying to describe color to someone who doesn't see color," says Thomas J. Palmieri, a Vanderbilt University psychologist and lead author of a study on WO that appears the March 19 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
In his earlier research, Cytowic documented a number of startling cases, including such well-known figures as Russian novelist Valdimir Nabokov, who as a child complained to his mother that the colors of the letters on his wooden alphabet blocks were all wrong. She knew, because she also saw letters as colors, and they clearly were not the same as those on the blocks.
The condition, which is genetically transmitted, seems especially prevalent among highly talented and gifted persons. The Russian composer Alexander Scriabin, who saw sounds as colors, even composed a symphony in 1910 that featured a colored light exhibit that he, no doubt, could see even without the lights. Other synesthetes, as they call themselves, include the poets Baudelaire and Rimbaud, painters Kandinsky and Klee, and the noted physicist Richard Feynman.
No one knows just how many people have the condition. Estimates range from one person out of every 300, to one out of every few thousand. The number is vague for obvious reasons. Some people learned early on not to talk about it out of fear of being regarded as odd. And those who have it tend to like it, so they don't feel a need to seek out medical help.
To take it away from them would be to deprive them of a special sense that may improve memory, and possibly stimulate creative instincts.
But do they really see, or hear, or feel what they claim to, or are they just fooling themselves?
That is the question that Vanderbilt's Palmeri wanted to confront. He was in his office a couple of years ago, talking with colleagues and fellow psychologists Randolph Blake and Rene Marois, about a short item in a recent issue of the journal Nature. The item described some headway in the study of synesthesia, and it piqued their interest as students of the cognitive process.
Blake told his colleagues that another colleague, subsequently identified as WO, had the condition.
"We were really intrigued and started testing him," Palmeri says.
They wanted to learn two things: whether WO really saw what he thought he saw, and what part of the brain allowed him to do it. The first part of that question is the easier part. An answer to the second is still up for debate.
Since WO claimed that plain black letters and words appeared to him in vivid colors, the researchers devised a number of experiments to see if the perception claimed by WO was real.
They drew up a list of 100 common, one-syllable words, and asked WO to tell them the color of each word.
A month later they repeated the experiment. He got it right 97 percent of the time. The only time he missed was with the easily confused colors of off-white, beige and light brown. Other researchers have done the same experiment with similar results.
The Vanderbilt team then showed WO pages of black numbers. In one test, a few 5s were interspersed among 2s and he was asked to pick out the 5s. Since they stood out as a different color, he completed the task in a fraction of the time required for people without the condition.
Those and other tests led the researches to conclude that the condition was real.
Wires Crossed in the Brain?
Next, parts of the numbers were presented separately to each eye. WO didn't see the color with just part of the number. It took both parts to produce the color. So the color came only after his brain reassembled the parts.
"This strongly suggests," Palmeri says, "that his synesthetic associations take place at a central level of vision processing after information from the two eyes has been combined." Others have postulated that the condition occurs much earlier in the visual process.
Other researchers, including Vilayanur Ramachandran, director of the Brain and Perception Laboratory at the University of California, San Diego, believe the condition may result from "cross wiring" of the brain. Ramachandran, a pioneer in the field of phantom limbs, in which persons claim to experience pain and other sensations in missing limbs, notes that the area of the brain that detects colors is adjacent to the area that handles letters and numbers.
Perhaps, he suggests, people like WO simply pick up information from one mental data stream and blend it into another. But whatever the cause, Ramachandran and graduate student Edward Hubbard have carried out studies similar to those at Vanderbilt and they have collected convincing evidence that the perceptions claimed by people with synesthesia are real.
Which brings us to this question: What, after all, is real? Green numbers are green because they occupy that specific region of the color spectrum. If someone sees a number that is painted in green, and perceives it as blue, is he seeing the real world?
To a physicist, maybe not. To a cognitive scientist, maybe so.
It doesn't really matter anymore to WO. He says parts of medical school were a breeze, thanks to his synesthesia. All those long words in biology and anatomy that are so hard to remember came easier to him, because if he forgot the letters, he could at least remember the colors.

January 6, 2014

Yoga Poses for Chakras

Here is a basic chart for many familiar yoga poses and which chakra they go along with. This is great if you are somewhat familiar with yoga poses and know where points of tension are in your body (via physical or emotional). 

If you aren't familiar with the poses and yoga breathing, then it is important to first get familiar with one or two poses in each chakra. Then add more as you feel a desire to--maybe picking an extra one or two in the area you think needs the most help. Click here for a site with the how-to's of yoga poses: 

image from ricardokoike.wordpress.com/2011/11/25/asanas-e-chakras/

Or another site had each of the chakras broken down. Here's one example: click chakra name title for website this came from and to find the other chakra  poses drawings.

January 4, 2014

Why's and How's of Giving Criticism

Here is an article from zen habits.net about motivations behind why we give criticism and how to do it more effectively if  we have to give it in the first place.


Why We Give Criticism
I think it’s important to step back and look at why people give criticism. There are a few common reasons (although there are many more possible reasons):
  • To help someone improve. Sometimes criticism is actual honest feedback, meant to help the person we’re criticizing. We want to help them get better.
  • To see a change that we would like. If we regularly read a magazine or blog, for example, there might be something that often bothers us that we’d like to see changed. Perhaps the person uses too many list headlines, or has too many spelling and grammatical errors. So criticism is meant to help get that change enacted.
  • To further the discussion. Criticism can be a way to get a good, intelligent discussion about something going, to take it to a new level, to explore new areas of the discussion, to give an opposing viewpoint, to impart new knowledge.
  • To hurt someone. Often we just don’t like someone, and want to get at them, attack them. Criticism in this case is destructive.
  • To vent our frustrations. Sometimes we are just frustrated with something, or are having a bad day, and need to vent that negative anger.
  • To boost our ego. Some people like to show how powerful or intelligent or knowledgeable they are, and use criticism as a way of doing that. They are puffing themselves up, challenging others, doing an Alpha Male thing.
Before you offer criticism, consider your reasons. If your reason is one of the first three, then this article is for you. If it’s one of the second three reasons, you won’t get anything out of this article. If that’s the case, I suggest you stop yourself and think long and hard about why you feel the need to do that.
Using criticism to help someone improve, to see a change affected, or to contribute to a discussion, are all good reasons for doing it. Now the question is, how to do it kindly, without attacking, so that your purposes are accomplished.
Why Criticism Hurts or Angers
People don’t often take criticism well, even if it’s done for good reasons (one of the first three reasons above, for example). But why? Why can’t they just simply see it as a way to improve?
Well, there are many reasons, of course, but here are just a few:
  • The criticism is mean-spirited. If you use insulting or degrading language, or put down the person in any way, they will focus on that, and not on the rest of the criticism.
  • It focuses on the person. If you focus on the person (“You’re a lousy writer”) instead of their actions, you will make them angry or defensive or hurt.
  • They assume you’re attacking them. Even if you focus on actions, many people take all criticism as an attack on themselves. No matter what your intention or language. They can’t take criticism in a detached, non-personal way. You can’t change that about them, other than pointing them to last week’s article (which will also probably be taken as an attack).
  • They assume they’re right. Many people assume what they say or do is right, and that the criticism is wrong. They don’t like to hear that they’re wrong, whether it’s true or not.
Now, there are other reasons, but I wanted to point out a few of the most common. You cannot change some of these things about the person receiving the criticism. You can try, but your success rate probably won’t be very great.
However, you can change your actions — how you communicate the criticism. Or whether you criticize at all.
How to Deliver Criticism Kindly (and Not Criticize At All)
Looking at the above reasons that criticism isn’t taken well, the keys are:
  • Don’t attack attack, insult, or be mean in any way
  • Talk about actions or things, not the person.
  • Don’t tell the person he’s wrong.
  • Don’t criticize at all.
But … what about giving kind criticism? How do you help someone improve, see the changes you want, or contribute to a meaningful discussion?
By offering a specific, positive suggestion instead.
So instead of criticizing, which is rarely taken well, offer a specific, positive suggestion. Let’s take a look at the elements of this method, why it works, and how to do it:
  • Suggestion, not criticism. As people sometimes will assume that you’re attacking them personally, no matter how nice your criticism and how much you focus on actions, a criticism is often not the way to go if you want 1) for them to improve; 2) to see actual change; or 3) to contribute to a meaningful discussion. Instead, suggest a change. A suggestion can be positive, it can be seen as helpful, it can be seen as an instrument for improvement and change. People often take suggestions well (but not always). So a suggestion is more useful than a criticism in many cases. Not always — sometimes it can be useful to give a nice criticism if someone is open to it. But in many cases, a suggestion is better.
  • Positive. Much criticism is negative. That hurts the discussion, because things can take an ugly turn from there. It hurts the person receiving it, making it less likely that they’ll take it as a way to change. Instead, be positive: “I’d love it if …” or “I think you’d do a great job with …” or “One thing that could make this blog even better is …”. And don’t do it in a sarcastic way … be genuinely positive. This keeps the discussion positive, and people are more likely to receive it in a positive way.
  • Specific. It’s easy to give vague criticism: “You’re a sucky writer,” “I can’t stand this blog,” or “You really should write better posts … this one is lame.” Anyone can do that. Being specific is more difficult: “I don’t like to see numbers in your headlines all the time,” “The first two paragraphs of your posts are long and rambling,” or “Your face is lumpy.” It’s harder still to make a specific, positive suggestion: “I’d love to see more images of kittens on Zen Habits,” or “Make my day and write a post about how to criticize your boss without him knowing you’re doing it,” or “I would appreciate fewer ads and more content.”
  • Be kind. It’s important that you be gentle and kind in your suggestions. People have a hard time accepting any criticism, gentle or not, but if it’s harsh, it’ll almost always have bad consequences. Instead, ask yourself, “Would I like to hear that about myself?” And: “If so, what would be the nicest way to say it?”
  • Relate to actions. Never criticize the person. Always criticize the actions. And when you’re making suggestions, make suggestions about actions, not about the person. Not: “Maybe you could become a less lumpy person?” Better: “I suggest you get face smoothener … it did wonders for me!”

How to: Live in the Moment

Here is a summary of an interesting short article i read.....
How often have you eaten a meal and not really tasted it, or completed a chore or drove to work without really thinking about it?
Our days often pass us by while our minds are elsewhere.
No one actually lives in the moment all the time — I don’t think it’s possible. Some, with practice, can learn to live in the moment for longer than most of us, but there will always be times when you’re worried about the future or thinking about the past, and forget to be in the moment.
It’s actually pretty hard, if you give it a try. Test it out right now: close your eyes (after reading these instructions first), and concentrate on your breathing — the sensation of the air as it enters your nose or mouth and fills your lungs, and as it goes out again. If other thoughts come up, be aware of them, acknowledge them, let them go (but don’t try to force them away) and then return your focus to your breathing.
It’s hard, isn’t it? Being in the moment isn’t as easy as it sounds.
It takes practice. But it can be achieved at times. To help inspire you to live in the moment, here are 5 great examples:
  1. Children. There’s no one better at being present than a child. I love to watch my three-year-old son, Seth, as he plays. He’s not thinking about what happened to him yesterday, or what he’s going to do later today. He’s Spiderman, and he’s fighting the bad guys, and nothing else in the world exists. If he gets mad about something, he overreacts, and nothing else in the world matters but what has upset him. But he’ll cry about it, and then soon return to normal, happy again, the offending situation forgotten without a grudge. He has no cares about tomorrow, and for that, I love to watch him. We need to use children as inspiration, and try to be like them sometimes. Jesus instructed us, “Be as a child,” and those were wise words.
  2. Cats. I also like watching my cat, Riddle. He thinks he’s a lion. He’ll stealthily stalk an insect or lizard, as if he’s hidden in tall grass on the savanna, and then he pounces and attacks. You know he’s not thinking about what he had for breakfast or what furniture needs to be clawed to shreds later in the day. Cats (and other animals) are all about the Now. Be like a cat.
  3. My wife and dessert. My wife Eva really knows how to eat dessert. Actually, of all the people I know, she may be the best at being in the moment, completely. She can really enjoy something, with all of her being. I’ve learned how to eat dessert by watching her — while I tend to gobble something quickly, Eva closes her eyes, and slowly puts a spoon of ice cream in her mouth. She savors the flavor, the texture, the coolness, the sweetness, the chocolateness of it. Eva enjoys things more than most human beings, and she inspires me. The next time you eat something, try not to think about anything else, not to read, not to talk to someone — just experience the food.
  4. Zen sweeper. It’s been said that the only two jobs of a Zen monk are sitting zazen (meditation) and sweeping. Cleaning is one of the daily rituals of a Zen monk, one of their most important daily practices. They sweep or rake, and they try to do nothing else. They aren’t thinking about being in a Zen state — the Zen state is the sweeping. The next time you’re doing housework (or anything, really), try concentrating on the housework, on the dust, on the motion, on the sensation. See this interesting article for more on this.
  5. Yourself, lost in something. You’ve been in the moment plenty of times. Can you remember a time when you lost yourself in a task? Not lost in thought, but lost in the doing of the task itself — you were concentrating fully, you thought of nothing else. The world disappeared. It might have been work — you might have achieved that state of mind known as “flow” — or it could have been a hobby, playing sports, yardwork, fixing something, anything. Try to remember a time like that, and replicate it.

Article from http://zenhabits.net/5-inspirations-for-being-in-the-moment/

January 2, 2014

New Year: A Time of RENEWal

While thinking of the New Year and what it means to "set my house in order," I've come to realize this...

The more I learn and grow--with each year and every tidbit of information--the more I love this blog's title "RENEW." But what does it mean to RENEW? 

Here's Webster's definition of RENEW:

: to make (something) new, fresh, or strong again
: to make (a promise, vow, etc.) again
: to begin (something) again especially with more force or enthusiasm

I love the ideas of enthusiasm, commitment and strength. When he have enthusiam, we can be positive and have hope. We more forward. But fear, worry, and looking back all deplete enthusiasm and confidence, hindering progress. So let's be positive in all things. Look for the good. Move forward with faith--both in yourself and in the Lord. Find something to renew. Then you can feel the grace and strength that comes as a result.

Here's a great little video about moving forward and not looking back.

So, what can you do to RENEW?
Taking time to be aware of yourself or habits you have, for good or bad, is the first step to personal change and renewal. 

So make a list of 1-3 things you want to change. 
What can you change? What can't you change?
Those you can't: turn over to the Lord through prayer (and commit to "STOP IT"--stop focusing on it)
Those you can: make a plan and get to work. Include them in your prayers for added help (especially if you don't know how) God will make a way to accomplish any righteous desire you have--though it might not be in the way you seek, or in your timing. Be ok with His way...that is patience and humility.

So...have fun changing step by step, in good ways. I love this quote by Ghandi:

"Be the Change 
you wish to see in the World" 

May your 2014 be one of small and simple incremental changes. And may you more fully reach your Divine potential...with enthusiasm! :)